Heroin-addict elephant to rejoin herd after rehab

BEIJING Thu Aug 30, 2007 11:23am IST

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BEIJING (Reuters) - A once drug-addled elephant fed heroin-laced bananas by illegal traders will soon return to the wild after being weaned off his addiction through methadone and round-the-clock care.

"Big Brother", a bull elephant that once "lived peacefully" with his herd near the China-Myanmar border in Yunnan province, was caught by traders in 2005, the China Daily said on Thursday.

"To control it so that it could lead the herd to where they wanted, the traders kept feeding it bananas laced with drugs," the paper said.

The traders, however, were caught trying to sell Big Brother and his herd after a tip-off to forest police.

By that time Big Brother had developed a raging heroin addiction and posed a danger to people if denied its fix, the paper said, citing police.

A drooling and twitching Big Brother had to be transported to a special park in the neighbouring island province of Hainan for treatment, after cold turkey proved so tortuous at a local centre that "even its iron chain could not contain it", the paper said.

After being diagnosed a heroin addict, park authorities in Hainan spent a year gradually weaning "Big Brother" off its dependence through methadone, regular bathing and massage.

Now clean, Big Brother will soon be returned home, the paper said.

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